Metropolis by Public domain
Sometimes you just can't sleep at night, we ask ourselves questions and throw ourselves into a national tizzy when a mentally ill man sprays a crowd with gunfire. That is bad enough, the shock value is there, good fodder for the TV news teams. But that's not what was keeping me up. I read in the local Gazette here tonight in my undisclosed location, of a quiet tragedy.
It keeps me up nights because although I did not know this person I had an affinity with her. One more tragedy in the land that doesn't give a damn. The newspaper didn't say much, it didn't have to. The story writes itself. A forty seven year old woman drove over a thousand miles to strange town on a river junction. She was staying with family, divorce perhaps? Lost her job and her home or apartment and drove a thousand miles for a new start?
We all know this story, you'd have to be pretty isolated not to know about this story for yourself. Not to know someone who has lost a home or a job. To have had their security and dignity ripped out from beneath themselves and to live in fear of the mailman or the telephone. To be beat upon by corporate bullies, to have $200 in bank fees turn into $2,000 in a few weeks. They call on the phone and threaten, or send letters with ominous implications. They are thugs, they operate just inside the law and sometimes with their toes just outside the law, because they know you don't have the money to defend yourself.
For millions of us this is new territory, we've always paid out bills in the past. We try to do right and explain the situation honestly. Then the collection calls begin anew tomorrow and we must tell the story all over again. Until we find ourselves in an emotional fetal position, where we just can't answer the phone anymore and we can't open the mail.
There is no respite or reprieve, the collectors will call your neighbors and your relatives, anyone who can make you take their phone calls. Despite having explained a hundred times before that you can't pay them because you can't find a job. Their remorseless hammer blows are designed to beat you down into submission, to harass and to maul you. Their monolithic purpose is to collect and nothing else matters.
In a real country outside of TV land, their would be a government to protect you. A government that would be concerned about the well being of the millions of its citizens losing their jobs and homes. A real government would do something about it rather than to just bribe big business with tax cuts to do something about it. A real government would take the bull by the horns and take over the mortgage crisis themselves. Robosigning? Robosigning guarantees that this issue will be with us for decades.
Why do banks use robosigning? Because they know that if you don't have the money to make your house payment then you don't have the money to fight back against them. You don't have a *ucking friend in the world and they know it. The bank has all the friends they need, a battery of attorneys and a big rubber stamp. In a real country somewhere, someone would protect you, but this isn't a real country this is imagination land.
Our government appoints a Mr. Wizard to sit in the basement of the Federal Reserve building and rule over the imagination nation of consumer protection. With full powers to make recommendations! If, of course those recommendations are ignored then Mr. Wizard has full powers to sit quietly. Like everything else in this country it's showmanship and salesmanship.
The President elected on "Hope and Change" doesn't change much. He passes Richard Nixon's healthcare plan, then opens the Gulf of Mexico up for deep water drilling after a forty one year ban. He plans to build nuclear power plants and ratchet's up the wars. All that's missing is John McCain shouting, "Hey, you kids! Get off my lawn!"
The new Congress offers...nonsense, the royal nonesuch come to flesh. The Earl and the Dauphin do a dance, but for a forty seven year old woman who drove a thousand miles to make a new start they offer...nothing! Nothing to hold onto, nothing to hope for, nothing good to eat and nothing to stay warm with at night. She is forgotten, we are forgotten!
Turned over to the corporate dogs to chew upon our marrow, forget citizens united. Forget Afghanistan, they are harassing the weak and the poor and the defenseless and your government just nods and smiles. Is that American justice? Is that American fair play? To be backed into a corner to be poked and prodded with a corporate stick? To use the government court system as an arm of the collection agency, a system that knows only judgments and liens without justice and leniency?
Cerebrally, I knew this woman, her and many others like her. Men who no longer have careers and women that no longer have careers. Careers they spent years building and years paying off student debt. Only to be told at age forty seven or fifty seven or even thirty seven that next week is your last week, your last check.
To then sign up for the government's unrealatorium, unemployment and food stamps. To live in fear of the government form. To receive forms in the mail from government agencies, my latest food stamp form was yellow, while all the others were white. What does that mean? No explanation enclosed, only a phone number. Am I about to lose my benefits? Why are they asking about Medicaid? I don't want to sign up for medicaid but if I fill out the form incorrectly, will I still be able to eat?
It fills your days and nights with angst, you toss and turn and fear what's next. You wonder if you even know how to have fun anymore? What is fun? What is entertainment? Millions of Americans, living like this, in an economic pressure cooker while the President and the Congress twiddle their thumbs saying, "The economy should be better in a year or two." That's heresy, that's a crime against humanity! It's inhuman to tell the American people, "that's just tough for you, so deal with it!"
To hold on to a coarse rope while being pulled towards the abyss, knowing that with each tic of the clock it brings you closer to the time when your benefits end. To the time when a forty seven year old woman drives a thousand miles for a new start. Then climbs the superstructure of a hundred year old bridge and dives off the edge. A hundred foot fall to rock hard jagged ice and frigid water, just another suicide in the land that doesn't give a damn.